Cigar Humidification

The 411 on Boveda Humidipaks

So what is that squishy stuff inside the bag? It’s a specially prepared, saturated solution of pure water and natural salt. This saturated solution is contained within a water-vapor permeable “reverse osmosis” membrane. Once placed inside your desktop humidor, the packet will maintain the predetermined level of relative humidity shown on the packet by releasing or absorbing purified water-vapor (as needed) through the membrane.

Because tobacco is hydroscopic, it has the characteristic to readily draw and expel moisture from its surrounding environment. This is also why, without proper humidification, it’s difficult to maintain the natural oils and sugars contained within the tobaccos. What the pack does is continually respond and adjust to the outside temperature and climate by either adding or removing humidity – as needed – to maintain a predetermined level of relative humidity in your humidor. By maintaining an ideal and constant relative humidity, your cigars won’t lose or gain any moisture. Rather, their moisture content can be maintained at your “ideal” moisture level almost indefinitely.

One of the most often asked questions is how long the packs will last. First, there is a major difference between the Humidipak you get in your box of Arturo Fuente cigars, for example, and the packs that are sold over the counter. On average, the factory-inserted packs will last about one month, whereas the store-bought packs are much thicker and will remain effective for at least two months  The best way to tell when they’re spent is to feel them. When the packet starts to feel a little crunchy, the solution is beginning to dry-up and crystallize. Once the solution has completely exhausted all of its moisture, the packet will feel stiff.

Another thing to keep in mind is, just because one packet is used for the factory box, doesn’t mean you only need one for your humidor. One packet is usually good for 25 cigars. The bigger the box, the more packs you need. For a complete chart on how many packs are necessary to keep your cigars fresh in your particular humidor, click here.

Another question is whether it’s safe to lay a Boveda pack directly on top of your cigars. The answer is yes. Since each pack emits only clean, purified water, and will only emit the precise amount of water-vapor, the packs can be placed directly in contact with your cigars without ever becoming over-humidified.

Rule of thumb: Never place your cigars in your humidor until it has been properly seasoned. If you don’t season your humidor, chances are your cigars will never stabilize properly, and may eventually become kindling. The humidor’s wood, most often Spanish cedar, and the cigars must be in harmony. Otherwise they will steal moisture from each other until the two are in balance. Without proper pre-seasoning, this will cause your cigars to lose their oils and sugars, thereby limiting their ability to improve by long-term aging.

Boveda also makes a One-Step Seasoning Kit which is regulated at 84% RH. It’s a much simpler way to season a new humidor than dealing with distilled water and sponges or shot glasses, etc. As with the humidity packs, first you have to predetermine how many packs you’ll need to season your humidor based on its dimensions or cigar capacity. On average, two Seasoning packs are required for every 50 cigars.

Finally, you want to make sure your hygrometer is giving you the most accurate reading. For this purpose, Humidipak also makes a Boveda hygrometer One-Step Calibration Kit. I have used this myself and can attest to the fact that it really works. Basically, it’s a zip-lock bag with a small 75.5% Humidipak inside. Simply place your hygrometer (analog or digital) in the bag, seal it up, and let it sit for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature. If your hygrometer is accurate, it will read on or close to 75%. If not, then you’ll know by how much your hygrometer is off, and can compensate for that amount whenever you check your humidor’s humidity level.

While some cigar smokers prefer to continue using more “standard” methods for humidifying their cigars, seasoning their humidors and calibrating their hygrometers, I say, to each his own. The standard green foam and newer crystal-based and gel humidifiers will most likely continue to be the preferred form of humidification for many cigar aficionados. But for those seeking a much neater, cleaner, and environmentally safe method, Boveda seems to offer some of the best solutions.
Some content in this article was sourced directly from Humidipak.com.

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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